Many drugs that you could be using may be making your skin very sensitive to the sun. These drugs are called Photosensitive Pharmaceuticals.

There are several ways these drugs can cause drug reactions on your skin:

1) Photosensitizing: UV light from the sun or tanning beds can alter a drug and cause a hyper-reactivity of the skin

2) Phototoxicity: A drug can absorb UV light and then release a toxic radical(s) that will disrupt or kill healthy cells.

3) Photoallergy: This can cause the body to release systemic chemicals or molecules- a defensive response to UV activated radicals from the compound- that can result in rash, hives or potentially fatal anaphylaxis, which can cause your throat to swell and blood pressure problems.

Here are just some of the drugs that have to potential for UV (sun or tanning beds) reactivity:

  • antibiotics : tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones: absorb UV radiation and generate free radicals
  • antidepressants: psychotropics and St John’s Wort: hives, rashes
  • antiFungals
  • antihistamines
  • antihypertensives (blood pressure meds)
  • benzocaine
  • benzoyl peroxide: used in many acne treatments
  • cholesterol drugs
  • diuretics: brief exposure can cause sunburn, itching, rash and redness
  • hypoglycemics
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory: over the counter products like ibuprofen, Celebrex, Aleve can cause phototoxic reactions
  • neuroleptic drugs
  • retinoids
  • sulfonamides ( help prevent bacteria growth): Sulfa drugs can cause a rash of blisters that have a deep itch

What can you do when you have been given one or more of these photosensitive drugs? Be sure to read and understand the label and its warnings. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist about photosensitivity. Next, STOP all tanning beds. Amen. Use SPF 30+ every single day. Apply enough sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours when you are going outside for long periods of time. Zinc oxide or zinc dioxide should be present in the SPF.

Photosensitivity is a real concern for anyone’s skin, no matter how dark your skin is. Please be careful with your skin!

Protect it and it will protect you.

If you need advice on good sunscreens “BookNow” a skin care consultation so I can help you decide what is best for you and your skin.


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